DocTours Newsletter May 2013

Hi Everyone!

46265655e96c91286342759929ce0468Volunteering to help those who are less fortunate in developing countries seems to be on everyone’s bucket list.  As well as healthcare, the most commonly needed skill is to help teach English in the local schools (and no formal qualifications are needed for these roles).  Education is a means of escaping poverty and leads to a more positive future for many children.

Let us help you plan your next amazing journey soon!

What’s hot?  Myanmar

aug.6Derek is planning planes, trains, boats, and automobiles on our next tour through Myanmar (Burma).  There will be several small group departures including 1 March 2014 so  check your diary and then register your interest at

Volunteering through the eyes of a Nurse …

An excerpt of an article by Mrs Natalie Donoghue:

It is only 7.30 am but I am a lather of perspiration, when finally I turn down the bougainvillea laced laneway and park my bike.
Children call out ‘hello teacher’ and smile or they run up to hold your hand looking up at you with their lovely dark brown eyes and innocent faces.

This is the medical clinic where I have come here to volunteer as a registered nurse.  Before I left Australia I had read the job description and thought I prepared myself for what I was about to undertake. The role of triaging the patients obtaining a brief history of their current complaint and treating wounds if necessary seemed to be clinically an easy task.

The clinic offers free medical care and medicine to the village in an impoverished area of Siem Reap. There is no government support for these families with many having little or no education and poor employment prospects. Simply earning enough to feed their children is a struggle for many. Their accommodation is sparse with no furniture; they sleep on mats on the wooden floors and cook on simple gas stoves or on open fires.

My role at the clinic is to triage the patients with another Australian Nurse, Vivienne and the clinic Co-ordinator Jody. We communicate via an interpreter and document on the patient’s file. The patient is then seen by the doctor or treated by us.

Even though I have returned home, the memories of working there will stay with me forever.

Volunteering through the eyes of a Doctor …

may13.4An excerpt of an article by Dr Bruce Gerard – the full article will be published shortly in the Medical Observer Magazine.

I made my decision to combine voluntary work in Cambodia with a holiday, never having visited South East Asia.  I was to spend two weeks at a new NGO Health Centre in one of the poorest communities of the city.  It was founded by a local Khmer who was a monk at the time, and evolved from his palm roofed classroom into a school and medical facility, thanks to the generosity of an Australian pharmacist among others.
The kids I examined looked pretty healthy in general, but would have been a little lower on our percentile charts. Even though breast fed, there are some dietary limitations when it comes to weaning, and we were pleased to have multivits available after bouts of gastro-enteritis.  Sadly they rarely continue immunisation started at baby check time if born in hospital.  I saw adults quite toxic with mumps though without severe complications, but no measles or varicella.   There were a lot of diabetics to review but none using Insulin.  Many people had a history of TB, and a lot of patients with Helicobacter on symptoms alone.  There are a lot of severe secondary infections of injured and burnt limbs, some with probable underlying osteomyelitis.  I did not do a lot of procedural work, but notably I was able to stay “mates” with a young fellow about 6yo I think ( DOB was often not that specific), after draining an abscess on his chest wall.  The reason for it escaped me, as he looked well cared for by a dedicated dad.  We travelled into rural areas to give antibiotic infusions and in particular to monitor the progress of a young man who probably has leprosy.   I was frustrated somewhat not being able to use imaging and blood tests that we regard as routine, mainly due to expense, but also due to lack of local specialist expertise as we know it.  So for me it meant remembering basic physical examination of student and JRMO days, then a trial of treatment chosen on availability in our pharmacy, and early review for the benefit of both patient and doctor.

Without exception the Khmer people I looked after, were profusely grateful for our attention.  They expressed this with a broad smile, a bow of the head with hands in the prayer position, while repeatedly saying “or-koon”.

Some of you may have missed the article written by one of our doctors who visitedNepal recently.  Read the full article in the Medical Observer Journal:

Now it’s your turn …..

The top 10 reasons to volunteer:

may13.21. Personal Growth
2. Leadership Development
3. Good Samaritan
4. Continuing Professional Development
5. Cultural awareness
6. Opportunity to help others
7. Friendship
8. Development of social skills
9. Family programs
10. Fun

What’s new …..

may13.1Our free call-back service.  Simply submit your contact number and the preferred time when you would like us to call you to chat about your program and answer any questions.

Here is the link:

“A smile is the universal welcome. ” ~Max Eastman

“No matter how grouchy you’re feeling,
You’ll find the smile more or less healing.
It grows in a wreath
All around the front teeth—
Thus preserving the face from congealing.”
~Anthony Euwer

“When it’s a particularly tough day, a big smile can restore your equilibrium.”